Throughout the whole complex body of phenomena that constitute the history of Greek sculpture we can trace a great underlying struggle to establish complete harmony between form and matter, between the subject and the language in which it is expressed, between the thought and the stone. In the remnants of the Archaic Period we are oppressed by a sense of the obtrusion of the material on our vision, to the detriment of the idea to be expressed. Again, in the Period of Decline, brilliant though this decline must be admitted to have been, we are oppressed by the presence of the material.
At the height of Greek art, with Pheidias, sculpture reached a point where the complete harmony between material and form was reached. Here the stone has been so completely vitalized, and life has been so masterfully monumentalized, that the eye is oppressed by neither, but delighted by both.
The first of the great problems now is, how a people so imbued with desire for active, plastic expression of their thoughts as the Greeks were, could have cultivated sculpture for so many centuries without raising it beyond what our few remnants of the Archaic Period show it to have been. The explanation of this remarkable fact most likely is that the hieratic iufluence was strong in sculpture, and the traditional temple statues were copied and held in high esteem. These forms became stereotyped and lasting, and counteracted any tendency to emanciation.
The causes that led to the phenomenal rise from 520 on, the lecturer proposes to investigate at the next lecture.